Higher education in the United States operates as it was originally designed: to benefit traditional-aged, middle-and upper-class White men. People of color and White women were meant to adapt to this structure and persevere through the higher education structure in order to succeed (i.e., graduate). This structure continues to exist. Institutions were originally designed for one student demographic; any student who does not fit this image is presented with barriers and obstacles as they matriculate, especially when the student is nontraditional (i.e., adult) and a person of color. As universities take on the challenge of creating diverse, inclusive campuses, one cannot help but realize how far education has to go to create this utopia for racially minoritized adult students. When reviewing many popular theories of adult education, it becomes easy to see that andragogy, self-directed learning, and transformative learning were not created with the Black and Brown student managing nonacademic adversities in mind. The theories were designed based on the ideal adult student at the time of development: White, young, middle or upper class, and needing education in the classroom. This ideal is very different from the Black or Brown student facing discrimination while walking to class due to societal microaggressions and preconceived stereotypes. However, reviewing adult education theories using components of critical race theory as a framework makes it possible to understand how racially minoritized adult students are at a disadvantage on college campuses.
Sydney D. Richardson
Annette Gough and Noel Gough
The term “cyborg,” as a combination of “cybernetics” and “organism,” was coined by Manfred Clynes and Nathan Kline in 1960 in a paper presented at a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) conference on space exploration as a representation of a particular challenge of space travel: physically adapting a human body to survive in a hostile environment rather than modifying the environment. Soon after, NASA commissioned “The Cyborg Study” to investigate the theoretical possibilities of incorporating life support–related technologies into future spacecraft design. From the beginning, cyborgs were seen as the realization of a transhumanist goal—liberating humans from the limitations of the body and its environment by means of mechanization. Outside of space exploration, the term “cyborg” has evolved to encompass an expansive mesh of the mythological, metaphorical, and technical. Initially mainly taken up by science fiction writers to create superhumans, the notion entered cultural studies in the 1980s, particularly through Donna Haraway’s feminist “cyborg manifesto,” which argues that we are all cyborgs. Since then, terminology has shifted, and cyborgs are more likely called “posthumans,” “more-than-humans,” “other-than-humans,” or “companion species.” Discussions of cyborg and posthuman subjectivities in educational research have taken two main directions. The first argues that with equipment like tablets, smartphones, and laptops, students and teachers are already cyborgs—hybrids of human and machine—accessing information, resources, networks, groups, personal relations, libraries, and mass media through the Internet. Other research has investigated how the construction of cyborg and posthuman subjectivities changes the relationships between humans and their surroundings, devising new social, ethical, and discursive ways of thinking and representation.
Guofang Li, Zhongfeng Tian, and Huili Hong
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, media and education have devoted increasing attention to Asian students’ intensified experiences of anti-Asian racism. However, less attention has been devoted to their language and literacy development, which is central to their social and academic success in schooling. Situated within an expanded view of linguistic, cultural, racial, and economic diversity among Asian ethnic groups, studies in the past decade mainly address two areas—mainstream language education and heritage language (HL) education of K–12 Asian migrant students in North America. Research on mainstream language education reveals “hidden” achievement gaps among Asian subgroups and Asian learners’ continuous struggles with negotiating multiple intersecting language, culture, gender, and racial identities; racial profiling; and pathologizing actions from mainstream White educators and peers, arguing against the monolithic model minority stereotypes. The mis/missed-representation of Asian languages and cultures in the mainstream curriculum further reinforces the dominant deficit discourses against Asian learners in the classrooms. Studies on HL education mainly concentrate on three areas: parental support and involvement at home, community language schools, and world language and immersion programs in K–12 schools. While they each provide Asian students with great opportunities to maintain their cultural and linguistic heritage and to cultivate positive ethnic identities, challenges remain in finding innovative and effective ways to foster sustainable HL development and to develop critical consciousness among different stakeholders to combat racial injustices. There is an urgent need for both mainstream and HL educators to adopt critical pedagogies and create humanizing spaces to better serve Asian migrant students in North American K–12 classroom settings.
Shakhnoza Kayumova and Kathryn J. Strom
The persistence of inequities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education is at least partially due to Eurocentric ontological and epistemological perspectives. Eurocentric thinking foregrounds epistemology (knowing and what can be accepted as knowledge) and separates it from ontology (worldviews and assumptions about the nature of being and reality), while completely disregarding axiology (ethics). This obscures the background assumptions of those who produce knowledge by positioning a particular mode of existence (i.e., Western social, cultural, and historical ways of being) as natural and, in turn, reproduces it as truth. Historically, this logic constructed a hierarchized binary that positions Western ways of knowing and being as the norm, setting up non-Western ontologies and epistemologies as inferior and “other.” Ultimately, this perspective has served as a justification for colonialization and enslavement and maintained White supremacy. Science culture, broadly construed as STEM disciplines, continues to be constituted based on dominant Western epistemologies. Through curriculum and pedagogy, children and youth are socialized into the dominant cultural models of what it means to be a science person and do science, with disciplinary knowledge and practices grounded in epistemological and ontological positions such as objectivity, universality, and neutrality. Valuing particular forms of reasoning, culture, and scientific practice, combined with understanding all scientific contributions to have emerged from Europe, perpetuates White supremacy by ensuring the hegemonic reproduction of Western epistemology and ontology as dominant while positioning all other cultures as scientifically inferior. Youth from nondominant communities are in turn constructed from a dehumanizing, deficit stance, and they are left with only two options: assimilate into the dominant culture of science or be excluded from participating in science learning. However, many feminist, Indigenous, postcolonial, and neo-materialist scholars argue that epistemology and ontology are co-constituted—that is, they co-create each other—and therefore cannot be considered separately. This relational, nondualistic perspective sees reality in terms of heterogeneous mixtures, promoting a view in which the reality is not static and fixed but fluid, always in movement. And reality is not preexisting but constantly co-created through ongoing material-discursive, nature-culture relations that involve humans but do not center them. Consequently, this produces a view of knowledge that is situated, contingent, and partial because it is shaped by the knowledge maker(s) and the multiple social, political, cultural (and so on) systems in which they are enmeshed. Given that discourse, spaces, places, and other entities all shape the nature of relations and interactions, conditions for equity and justice in STEM classrooms do not preexist: Equity emerge as practices through just relations in specific times and places among the various actors and perspectives that must coexist for students to learn in productive ways. Creating the conditions for such emergence requires reconfiguration of relations from hierarchical and exclusionary to pluriversal. Pluriversal praxis requires embracing an ontoepistemological shift based on relationality, interdependence, embodiment, ethics, and care toward youth, diverse communities, and more-than-human collectives. While this may seem like a huge (and perhaps even impossible) undertaking, it is possible to think strategically about the ontoepistemological shifts that are needed. For example, teachers can engage in professional development that deliberately teaches a collectivist approach and emphasizes the joint construction of knowledge while helping them raise their sociopolitical consciousness and engage in critical reflection. Such entry points can help teachers and researchers develop more expansive and epistemologically heterogeneous views of STEM curriculum, teaching, and learning.
Kristin Elaine Reimer and Crystena Parker-Shandal
Restorative justice in education (RJE) is a philosophical framework that centers relationships in schools, calls attention to issues of justice and equity, and provides processes to heal harm and transform conflict. The use of restorative justice (RJ) in schools gained large-scale attention from teachers and school boards since the 2010s. In the 1990s and early 2000s many school boards around the world took up what was generally known as “zero tolerance” approaches. It meant that punitive responses, such as suspension, expulsion, and exclusionary practices, were used by administrators and teachers more readily and frequently. Research continues to show that exclusionary punishments are harmful—especially to Indigenous students, students of color, and other marginalized students—in many ways, for example, increasing dropout rates, decreasing overall student achievement, and strengthening the school-to-prison pipeline. Gaining more momentum in the 2010s (although practiced by many teachers and communities before this), RJ approaches became a way to challenge a system that was simply not working and further harming students. Many educators and school boards saw RJE as a means to reduce suspensions and expulsions and to increase their graduation rates. Others have seen RJE as a critical process for facilitating school equity and racial justice. This continuum of approaches to RJE impacts how research is conducted, what research questions are asked, who is included in the research process, and how it is disseminated. While some researchers still position RJE as solely an alternative to punitive disciplinary models, an increasing number of researchers view RJE as a paradigm shift for how people relate to one another in the context of schools, including through relational approaches to pedagogy. This relational way of being centers people’s humanity and promotes shared accountability within learning communities.
Genaro Oliveira and Bronwyn Wood
Prior to colonization, tangata whenua (people of the land) in Aotearoa (New Zealand) developed robust knowledge traditions. Formal social sciences education in New Zealand began with the schooling system introduced by European settlers in the late 19th century. It has been subject to recurrent review and reform since its foundation. The Education Act of 1877 led to the first formal national curriculum that introduced geography and history teaching in primary schools. During the first half of the 20th century, social sciences education in New Zealand saw a greater emphasis on citizenship education due to increasing migration and geopolitical changes resulting from the two world wars. Enduring and contentious curricular changes would follow the recommendations of the Thomas Report (1944), which introduced social studies in secondary schools as a new integrated school subject to promote learning across the social sciences. Since the 1990s, the social sciences have been named as one of New Zealand’s eight curriculum learning areas. Social studies (junior social sciences) remain as a core integrated subject taught compulsorily from years 1 to 10 (primary, intermediate, and junior secondary years), while a suite of discrete social sciences disciplines is optional for students at senior secondary levels (years 11–13). For almost 80 years, social sciences curricula have been the primary vehicle for citizenship education. The most recent curricular reforms have emphasized the importance of Mātauranga Māori (indigenous knowledge) to promote culturally-responsive social sciences learning in commitment to Aotearoa New Zealand’s bicultural foundations.
Animal personhood research comes from different theoretical directions: animal rights, animal welfare, compassionate conservation, animal rights law, and many related disciplines. The term “personhood” is taken to lie in three main characteristics, including the capacity to act intentionally, the capacity to experience feelings, and the possession of moral worth. This division is complementary to three approaches: the perfectionist approach, the humanistic approach, and the interactive approach, with the third approach being the strongest. The basic idea is that personhood can be linked to legal rights based on recognition of intrinsic rights based on sentience or other characteristics of a living being, including personality. The move toward recognizing animal personhood in education promises to signify a return to a nonanthropocentric ethic that characterizes both the most transformative forms of education for environmental sustainability and the type of education that stresses responsibility and compassion toward all living beings. This type of education, at both the school and university levels, supports both ecocentrism and animal ethics and supports the rights to life of all living beings on Earth—including, to state the obvious, humans. Many initiatives supporting developing education for animal personhood have emerged within the literature on (sustainability) education and practice. This literature emphasizes multiple forms of education, ranging from education for sustainability, education related to ethics (anything that fits under the broad banner of sustainability, from human rights to social justice and indeed animal welfare), for example, including posthumanist education, action research, education for sustainable development, curriculum development, pedagogical studies that specifically engage with animal rights, and animal welfare education. More specifically, Animal Protection Education provides students and teachers with the information they need to understand and discuss the concept of granting legal personhood to animals.
There is an influential and highly diverse tradition of philosophers and philosophically inclined educational theorists who argue that education should aim at freedom, indeed that education, properly understood, is the practice of freedom. On the one hand, there is the movement that neither commences nor ends with John Dewey (active during the late 19th century and first half of the 20th century), but of which Dewey’s philosophy of education is the neuralgic point. On the other hand, there is the movement, inspired to some extent by Dewey but quite distinct from it, launched by Paulo Freire in the second half of the 20th century—known as critical pedagogy. Freire and his followers—bell hooks and Henry Giroux, among them—explicitly claim that education is the practice of freedom and think of this practice as emancipatory in its aims. Dewey never explicitly describes education as the practice of freedom, but Richard Rorty, one of Dewey’s most influential followers, does so, and he correctly attributes the view to Dewey.
Considering the current context—the continued seriousness of environmental issues, the need for environmental education, and the overwhelming amount of and ease of access to media—educators cannot and should not discount the role the media plays in addressing sustainable education. Specifically, as documentary films continue to be a popular choice for audiences to learn about the environment, educators should not just consider the content or the issues addressed, but also consider the nuanced effects of the genre and its patterns, such as the use of images on viewers’ understanding, awareness, and consequently their motivations to act in more eco-conscious ways.
Ilham Nasser and Mohammed Abu-Nimer
The article is an analysis of the Palestinian Arab education system, in particular the curriculum, and ways it was dealt with after the Nakba (Catastrophe) and the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. The relevant Israeli government policies that impacted the Palestinian minority who remained in historic Palestine are introduced. The authors delve into methods in which the Israeli state managed, and is still managing, the education of this national minority within a Zionist ideological framework embedded with Jewish religious and national values and themes. We describe the mechanisms through which Israel maintains a tight grip on the Palestinian minority through a security management apparatus employed in the education system to monitor teachers’ employment and staffing of those who are friendly and submissive to the policies of the government. Evidence for the continuous attempts to erase the Palestinian national and cultural identity through the curriculum, and textbooks is provided in content such as history, civics, and Arabic language. The authors address the initiatives taken by the Palestinian minority allies to react, resist, and organize. These include efforts to claim back the education space, as in the case of parents offering alternative schooling and nongovernmental entities and initiatives with a purpose of moving the community into a Palestinian self-steering education system. Recommendations on steps and initiatives to elevate the educational experiences and academic attainment of the next generations of Palestinian youth are provided, without denying them their right to learn their national and cultural heritage.